When Steven Curtis Chapman released his Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows record, he hoped his fans, who knew him as a Contemporary Christian artist for more than 30 years, would follow him for his side project before he got back to making the kind of music he had made for almost his entire adult life.
But no one, especially not Chapman, expected the record to land at the top of the iTunes Country Albums chart, beating out Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton, shortly after it was released.
"How crazy is that?" Chapman asked PopCulture.com. "My management team sent that through to me and said, 'You got a No. 1 country record right now on iTunes.' I said, 'No, you're looking at that wrong. There's no way. That can't be.' And I opened it up, I'm like, 'What? This is crazy. I can't even believe this.'"
The milestone reminded Chapman of the dreams he held as a young man, and the winding road they took to come to fruition.
"Who would have ever imagined, when I was 19 years old performing on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time as a performer at the park?" Chapman reflected, remembering the former theme park in Nashville. "They would occasionally bring kids in to give them a shot at the big stage. Roy Acuff introduced me, and I walked out on the Grand Ole Opry stage and sang 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.' And forgot the words, at 19 on the Grand Ole Opry! I was pretty sure my career was over right there. I thought I'd never make it in this town; I just forgot the words on the Grand Ole Opry.
"Thankfully, I survived it somehow," he continued. "What an amazing thing. I'm just very blessed. I mean, that's the bottom line. I'm just very, very blessed and so grateful for all of the success, all the opportunities I've had. To be able, at this point in my life, to do something that I've never done before and have a first, that's a pretty awesome, awesome thing."
Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows, includes collaborations with Rascal Flatts' frontman, Gary LeVox, and Country Music Hall of Fame member, Ricky Skaggs.
"If you would have told my 19-year-old self ... that someday you're going to get to duet with Ricky Skaggs I would've just said you're crazy," Chapman remarked. "There's no way. I was one of the biggest Ricky Skaggs fan when he came on the scene, because he brought this music that I loved so much as a kid, bluegrass music, into the mainstream in a way no one that I had ever known had been able to do it."
Chapman did previously have success on the country – and pop – charts, although it wasn't necessarily intentional. The singer-songwriter's song, "Cinderella," from his 2007 This Moment album became a crossover hit, and later, a tribute to his daughter, Maria, who passed away in 2008. Maria is one of three children Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, have adopted, and he remains as passionate about adoption as he does his music.
"I'm the dad of six, three biological," Chapman said. "My wife and I say three natural, three supernatural kids because we had our three biological [children]. Our oldest daughter Emily, who at the time at was about 11 years old, made a trip to Haiti, spent time with kids that didn't have a family and it broke her heart. She came home with this passion, and said, 'We need to do something about this. We should adopt.' We said, 'Well that's just that wonderful, but that's not gonna happen because we have three children and we're busy and life's crazy.
"It was never in our plan, but there's a great verse in the Bible that says, 'We make our plans and God directs our steps,'" he continued. "And we're living proof of that because here we are. years later, Emily's 33 now, so that'd be like 22 years later we have three adopted daughters from China."
Chapman is already working on new music, but hints country music fans might not have seen the last of him.
"Our plan is to take a bit of a break and a rest, and then I have a Christmas tour planned," Chapman revealed. "I'm always writing, and got some things kind of stirring around. So I would not be surprised to hear some new music from your old pal Steven Curtis sometime next year. But we do need a little bit of a rest. We're gonna take a deep breath, spend some time with our grand-babies, now we have six of those. Crazy. And I'll keep playing.
"I'm loving playing the Opry and I'm playing the Opry a lot these days, which has been so fun for me," he added. "Full circle, you know, back to that. So I'll love to continue to do that and we'll just kind of see where God directs my steps."0comments
Purchase or stream Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows by visiting Chapman's website.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Rick Diamond